A distinct growth culture, one that defines the behavior norms that propel it, is most impactful when clearly linked to strategic initiatives and objectives. According to McKinsey, companies with strong culture achieve three times higher total return to shareholders than others.
In addition, a healthy company culture attracts and retains top employees. Glassdoor lists culture and values of the company, followed by the quality of senior leadership and internal mobility, as top predictors of workplace satisfaction.
While each organization’s prescription for a healthy culture is different and individualized, there are usually five components that end up on just about every treatment plan:
- Recruit for the culture you are trying to build. “Seeding such people across the organization helps to pull the organization towards its target culture,” says Steve McLay, brand and marketing leader at Walking the Talk, the culture division of ZRG Partners (a global talent advisory firm). “Recruiting for current culture fit may keep the organization stuck in the past, recruiting for future culture contribution moves it forward.”
- Recognize cultural stewards and be consistent. Do you host a staff meeting each month? Make it a point to recognize individual employees or departments for their cultural stewardship during the meeting. Recognition within this space can motivate employees and show how an employee’s individual purpose weaves into everyday work and links to the firms’ strategic objectives. Additionally, every person gives and receives recognition differently. Use the staff meeting as a base line for recognition and offer your management team tools to explore how individual employees prefer to be recognized.
- Establish guidelines to identify cultural complacency. Although you may be the best in the city, region or country, markets change, employees retire, and competitors are always knocking at your door. If you don’t seek areas of improvement, chances are you won’t be the best for long.
- Engage with a peer exchange group. Although each organization has its own set of cultural components and core values, it is important to discuss operational blind spots with peers among the industry. Having a resource to navigate areas of business can be incredibly helpful when implementing a culture of growth.
- Deploy an Employee Engagement Survey on a 12-to-18-month basis. Survey results provide leadership a holistic portrait of how well an organization is functioning internally. It also gives employees a forum to voice their opinions honestly and confidentially to spark change. According to MarshBerry’s 2022 Compensation Study, approximately 60% of participating firms measure employee engagement or satisfaction using employee engagement surveys. As firm revenues increase, the percentage of survey deployments also increase.
Recent results for a firm’s employee engagement survey indicated employees were unsure of hiring and promoting decisions and mentioned a need to get back to cultural and core values of the company. The management team was quick to discuss all the ways these cultural values are reviewed – staff meetings, newsletters, recognition, etc. – and were unsure how this could be misleading to their team members. As the discussion continued, they learned they were not communicating how recent hiring and promoting activities were directly linked to cultural and core values and strategic objectives of the firm, offering an immediate action item to engage with employees.
To determine what your organization might be doing to support or interfere with a culture for growth, ask these questions:
- What barriers impede employees from seeing how their efforts positively impact others, both inside and outside the organization?
- How do staff members know that their actions are valued by the organization?
- How is this communicated to them and with what frequency?
- How do employees connect their individual purpose to company culture?
- How do I, as a leader, better communicate the impact that everyone at my organization has on organizational growth?
- What is our culture of growth? Growth for the sake of growth, or to enhance shareholder return, can be demotivating to people when their individual purpose isn’t directly linked to their role.
Some questions may be easy to answer, where others may require input from your management team and HR professionals. While the group is together, review the five components for healthy culture and determine one or two that you could execute in the next month to build towards a culture of organizational growth.
Contributing Author: Shelley Turk, Program Specialist for Connect.